French waste management company Veolia has announced its first electric vehicle battery recycling facility in the UK, which will have the capacity to process 20% of the UK’s end-of-life electric vehicle batteries by 2024.

Veolia’s new facility at Minworth in the West Midlands will establish recycling and treatment capacity for the anticipated 350,000 tonnes of end-of-life electric vehicle batteries predicted to be in the UK by 2040.

The plant will discharge and dismantle batteries and then mechanically and chemically separate the components.

The materials required for battery manufacturing largely rely on traditional water and energy intensive processes. It is estimated that 500,000 gallons of water is required to extract one tonne of lithium. But, says Veolia, use of recycled materials, or ‘urban mining’, could reduce water consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions from battery production by up to 50%.

Furthermore, says Veolia, it will use its international network and materials recovery expertise to establish a European circular economy battery solution in the next five years.

“This is an important first step on the UK’s journey to create an ethical and sustainable supply chain for batteries that will be increasingly necessary as we transition to a greener economy,” said Gavin Graveson, Veolia Senior Executive Vice-President, Northern Europe Zone.

“We will not reach carbon neutrality without increasing our investment and development of new technologies and recycling opportunities. As the demand for electric vehicles increases, we will need this facility – and more like it in the UK – to ensure we don’t hit a resource crisis in the next decade.”

“Alongside other projects across the globe, bringing Veolia’s expertise to the UK recognises the size of the national market and appetite to recycle locally and responsibly. Urban mining is essential if we are to protect raw materials and will in turn create a new, high-skilled industry,” Graveson added.